521 Reds surrendered since Feb. 4: AFP

MANILA – A total of 521 rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) have voluntarily surrendered since the government terminated its peace negotiations with their leaders last February 4.

“The continuous surrender of NPA members is indicative of the organization’s dwindling strength. This is also a clear manifestation of our successful intensified combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations, particularly in northeastern Mindanao, which is the NPA’s area of concentration,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo, said Saturday.

“It is becoming more apparent that hardships inside the NPA organization are now taking their toll on its members leading them to cross the line and return to the folds of the law. The AFP, for its part, welcomes these former rebels and is willing to offer them assistance in line with the administration’s local integration programs,” AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

Arevalo said the surrenderers included a certain Joel Embos, alias “Jojo” and a member of the NPA’s Militia ng Bayan. He voluntarily surrendered with three firearms to the Philippine Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion in Surigao del Sur last November 3.

Eight members of the Guerilla Front 73, carrying high-powered firearms, turned themselves in to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion in Sultan Kudarat on All Souls’ Day, while seven NPA members surrendered on November 1.

A certain Mark Banahid Talusan, squad leader of an NPA platoon, surrendered to members of the 27th Infantry Battalion, along with his M-16 rifle, in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Four others, identified as Camilo Dumanglay, Allan Jeva Asalan, Welnie Sanchez, and Junrey Pinsahan, surrendered to the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion in Talacogon, Agusan del Sur, while one Aman Baclayon surrendered to the 1st Special Forces Battalion along with his M-1 Garand rifle in Libona, Bukidnon.

Arevalo added that 16-year-old Ker-Ker Saling Bangon, using the alias “Tarzan” and “Tikboy”, voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion in T’boli, South Cotabato. The minor also turned in his 9-mm. Thompson machine pistol.

Since Feb. 4, the AFP has neutralized 736 NPAs; 521 voluntarily surrendered; 121 were killed in combat operations; and 94 were apprehended.

It also recovered 578 high- and low-powered firearms from the rebel group. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA – northboundasia.com